ABC rookie drama struggles in ratings

Flash forward several months later, and ABC is still struggling to attract young adults early on Thursday.

The hour preceding the Alphabet’s biggest hit, “Grey’s Anatomy,” has sagged of late, contributing to lower ratings for the medical drama. And last week’s return of rookie drama “FlashForward” didn’t do a whole lot to suggest that the net’s 8 p.m. situation on the important night will improve this spring.

According to national estimates from Nielsen that include same-night DVR playback, “FlashForward” averaged a 1.9 rating/6 share in adults 18-49 and 6.5 million viewers overall with its expanded two-hour premiere. Among 18-49ers in its regular hour, “Flash” lagged college hoops on CBS (3.3 rating) and NBC comedies “Community” and “Parks and Recreation” (both at a 2.0 rating), and beat Fox’s repeat of “Bones” (1.6).

ABC points out that “FlashForward” is the season’s biggest rookie 18-49 gainer in same-week DVR playback, and the drama likely was substantially recorded on a night when it went up against the NCAA men’s college basketball tourney on CBS. But the net had to be hoping for a stronger same-night number for the show’s return.

After a good debut last September, the series about what happens when everyone on the planet simultaneously loses consciousness for more than 2 minutes, cooled off. Still, its fourth-quarter “live plus same day” firstrun 18-49 average (covering episodes two through 10) was a 2.9 — well above its return last week.

Show, which had been off the air for more then three months amid various onscreen and behind-the-scene changes, still figures to be an upgrade from the tiny numbers ABC was seeing in January and February with short-lived legal drama “The Deep End.” But in an hour with “Survivor” and “Bones” and NBC’s comedies, it may struggle to avoid placing fourth most weeks.

The net has been looking for a solid lead-in to “Grey’s Anatomy” for several years now. “Ugly Betty” started strong in 2006 but since faded, and this season neither “FlashForward” nor “Deep End” has been the answer.

At NBC on Thursday, the third week of “The Marriage Ref” drew good scores (2.9/9 in 18-49, 7.60m), up 12% vs. the previous week. Show seemed to benefit from a lack of firstrun scripted drama competish on the other major nets, with CBS airing basketball and ABC a repeat of “Private Practice.”

The Peacock also continues to see pretty good results for Friday alternative series “Who Do You Think You Are” (prelim 1.7/7 in 18-49, 7.1 million viewers overall), which matched its week-ago delivery to place second to basketball in its 8 p.m. hour.

And Fox fared well opposite hoops with “Kitchen Nightmares” at 9 p.m. (prelim 1.9/6 in 18-49, 4.4 million).

College hoops on CBS, meanwhile, generated strong early numbers, winning primetime among adults 18-49 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The preliminary three-night household rating/share of 4.6/11 matches that of a year ago through the opening three days.

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